Day 13: 14 Aug 2010
Cleared out of the office building early this morning, before anyone came in. I had no idea where to go. I just walked along the street, thinking. I realized I probably could have ditched the office building after a couple of hours. Still, I wasn't used to guys in classic Mercedes limos chasing after me with assault rifles. I was scared, so I stayed put.
My BlackBerry's battery was circling the drain, but it apparently had juice for one call -- the phone rang as I walked up Eastwood.
"Hey, Travis. Aki. How're you doing, brother?" Aki said when I answered.
"Had better days, man," I told him. "What's up?"
"Something weird. We got a letter here for you, private courier. I told the guy where you live, but he insisted on giving it to us."
"Any return address?" I asked as my BlackBerry beeped at me to let me know I had a few seconds of talk time before it suicided.
"Nah, just a plain white envelope with your name on it. Feels like it might be empty, but I didn't open it."
"Hold it there. I'll be by in an hour or so. That cool?"
"Yeah, man. I'll be here."
I moved to hang up, but my BlackBerry took care of that. With a last, pitiful beep, the battery died and the phone shut down.
"Well. . . I'd better start walking," I said to no one.
* * *
Aki was behind the register when I got there. He looked bored.
"Hey, Trav. Here ya go."
The handwriting was familiar. The envelope was addressed with the same long, flowing strokes as the one Kevin sent me downtown last week. I put it in my pocket.
"Oh, yeah. There were some cops outside your building earlier. You see what that was about?" Aki asked.
"No, didn't catch it."
"Three, four cars. Bunch of officers. Maybe someone got killed?"
"I don't know, maybe. Thanks for hanging onto this."
"Yeah, man. Beers later?"
"I'll let you know. I might not be around tonight."
"Cool. Give me a ring, we'll hook up."
The market was only a couple of blocks from my apartment -- with cops around, I figured it would be safe to go back and check it out. I could see the cars as I walked into the complex -- there were two of them, and officers were taking statements from my neighbors.
"Excuse me, sir. Are you Travis Sykes? Apartment 25?" a uniformed cop asked me.
"Can I talk to you for a minute?"
He asked nicely, but I got the feeling it wasn't really a question.
"Sure. C'mon in," I said, opening the door to my place.
"Just a couple of questions. Your neighbors here say the people who hit the man in the parking lot last night were after you, too."
"I don't know about that. I think they just chased me because I saw them. I ran like hell -- planned to call you today," I said.
"So you did see them?"
"Mm-hm. Two guys in black pants and shirts with machine guns. They pulled up in a big black car," I said. "A Mercedes 600 Grosser. Don't see many of those."
"A limousine is what your neighbors said."
"Yeah, the Grosser's a limo. Rare one -- they stopped making 'em in the 70s, I think. Big sons of bitches. I used to be into cars," I said.
"I see that. So anything else you can tell me?"
"No. Once I saw the guns, I just ran. I remember they were white guys, but not much else."
"Anyone you can think of that would want to hurt you?"
"Nah. Someone vandalized my truck earlier, but I doubt it was them."
"And the man who was hit in the parking lot. Did you know him?"
"Nope. He came to my door looking for someone else."
Why lie? I don't know, but the words came out of my mouth without thinking. I just wanted to get rid of the cop so I could grab some stuff. After that, I planned to get the hell out of Dodge.
"All right. I'll need you to stick around for a couple of days," the cop said. "In case I have further questions, or anything."
"Right on," I lied. "Thanks for coming by."
The cop left, and I grabbed a bag.
* * *
I remembered the envelope later that evening, while I was in my truck on the way to Raleigh to stay with a friend. One of my high school pals, Darren, had ended up working for IBM out in RTP -- I called him, and he was cool with me crashing out. After Darren and I had dinner and a few beers and he showed me to his spare room, I took the envelope out of my pocket and opened it.
Inside was another microSD card.